Rays of sun in stormy weather

"Our flight is delayed," announced the pilot - to the audible delight of my fellow passengers. My mom and I used mother-daughter mind-reading powers to acknowledge that we had a long night ahead.

For those who don't know me, I am not what some people would call a happy flier. I am a superstitious one, a stressed one, a disorganized one, but never ever a happy one.

I had college decisions coming out that night, heightening my desire to return home with my future looming in the distance. No anxiety there, folks. Sweat pooled and my heart pounded as we lingered on the runway.

The plane took off an hour and a half later, embarking on a roller coaster ride through stormy weather. I started getting flashbacks to a particular flight to New York when our plane took dance lessons in the sky, forgetting the passengers aboard. I reminded myself about learning about availability heuristics in psychology. Essentially we believe that the most memorable or recent events correlate with a higher probability of something happening (most of the time bad) than is actually true. Heuristics be darned, I hung onto the arms of my chair for dear life and unfortunately for the poor man sitting next to me, sometimes his arm, too.

At last, we descended upon the city of Chicago. My flying fears faded away, suspended in the air somewhere awaiting my next harrowing ride. The ugly face of college rejection took over - setting a higher bar - but I awoke the next morning and the skies were still clear.

The idea that we control our fates may be as irrational as my fear of flight or "failure." Humans spend too much time worrying about the outcomes they have little control over. It is better to find joy in the turbulence of life and to ride that roller coaster with a smile on your face.

My favorite quote sums it up perfectly.

"What if I fall?"

"Oh darling, but what if you fly?"

- Isabella Terry, a senior at Hinsdale Central High School, is a contributing columnist. Readers can email her at [email protected].